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NSW Cup Panthers fall to Bears

The NSW Cup Panthers went down in a tight one to the North Sydney Bears on Sunday afternoon at BlueBet Stadium, penalty goals the difference in a 22-16 loss.

Isaiah Iongi started the game looking extremely dangerous with ball in hand, a handful of runs threatening to break the Bears line apart. 

It was the Bears however who would have the first chance, stealing the ball after a contested kick to have a full set of six on the Panthers line, but it was thwarted by a brilliant 1-on-1 tackle by Daeon Amituanai on Tui Katoa to force him into touch on the second tackle.

Five minutes later, the Bears crossed for their first, Jake Toby and Kieran Hayman linking up on the left edge to get through the Panthers line and cross. Conversion successful, 0-6.

Errors prevented the Panthers from putting any pressure on, and they had to do a lot of defending through the first 20 minutes. 

Off the back of one such error, Israel Ogden sliced through the Panthers left edge defence to crash over the line and score. Conversion successful, 0-12.

The Panthers first chance came off the back of an accidental offside penalty against the Bears inside their 20, but it ended with a poor kick from Geyer, giving away a seven tackle set before it was compounded by the Panthers giving away a penalty.

The Bears had a chance to extend the lead with a penalty goal late in the half, courtesy of an offside call against the Panthers, but the kick was missed, keeping the score at 12-0 with four minutes left until the break. 

Two minutes into the second half, the Panthers had their first points, a crash ball finding Mavrik Geyer who accelerated into the space to score. Conversion successful, 6-12.

Allan Fitzgibbon answered just three minutes later for the Bears, accelerating into space down the sideline and despite Iongis best efforts on an ankle tap he was able to slide in and score. Conversion successful, 6-18.

A penalty directly in front of the post allowed the Bears to extend the lead, this time Kieran Hayman converted to take the lead out to 14.

Tyrone Peachey nearly got over for the Panthers second, after snatching a kick out of mid air over Jake Toby, but a brilliant effort from Ben Talty held him up regaining possession for the Bears with a last tackle changeover.

Tyrone Peachey did end up getting the next Panthers try, a Zack Lamont kick sat perfectly for Peachey who just had to force the ball down to cut into the deficit. Conversion successful, 12-20.

Recently signed until 2026, David Fale scored with ten minutes to go to make a contest of it, scoring a try in the corner off a backline shift, beating his opposite man to make it a one-try game. Conversion unsuccessful, 16-20.

Jake Toby dared to let a Tyrone Peachey kick roll dead, but Jesse McLean came screaming through, forcing Toby to get it out, only just getting his boot to ball in time. This gave the Panthers six tackles in the Bears red zone with four minutes to go.

The set ended with Billy Scott looking for space through the middle, before forcing an offload on the last which was put down by Luron Patea, two minutes left on the clock and four points still the difference. 

A Jake Toby offload in the following set was deflected by the Panthers giving the Bears an extra set to run the clock down, later in that set a crusher tackle was called against the Panthers, allowing the Bears to run the clock down with their third penalty goal of the game.

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.